IRVING, Texas – Here are my keys to this week's Cowboys-Giants matchups.
Surprise, surprise, but I think a lot of it is going to come down to how uncomfortable the Dallas defense can make Eli Manning. The New York offensive line is simply too shaky not to take advantage of.
On the other side, I think the Giants' best bet for success has less to do with stopping the run and more to do with playing well in coverage.
Read below for more:
Cowboys Win If:
The Giants have struggled with some key injuries to their offense. To make matters worse, their running game is not what we have seen from the Giants in the past. Their inability to run the ball has put more pressure on the shoulders of Eli Manning to try and deliver while they are sorting things out.
Where the Giants have also struggled is with their offensive line. As a group they have been very inconsistent with their play -- particularly the manner in which they give up pressure. Over the years of studying Manning during his career, it was never about the sacks with him but the pressures. The more pressure that a defense can put on him throughout a game the more he tends to struggle dealing with it. When he gets hit repeatedly or defenders are around him he will become a turnover machine.
The Cowboys defensive line through six games doesn't have the sack numbers of some of the other teams around the league, but where they have been successful is creating pressure in the pocket -- which makes them a bad matchup for this offensive line. Look for plenty of blitzes and line stunts from Rod Marinelli in order to make Eli Manning feel extremely uncomfortable and shut this Giants offense down
Giants Win If:
As much as the Giants will have to worry about the Cowboys running game, the passing game should actually be a bigger concern. Defensively, the Giants are beat up in the secondary and are having to shuffle players around in order to get ready for this game on Sunday.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been dealing with a back and hamstring injury. Nickel corner Trumaine McBride broke his thumb against the Eagles last week and is most likely lost for the season. The backups are the underachieving Jayron Hosely, Zack Bowman and Chandler Fenner. If there are bright spots in the secondary, Prince Amukamara is playing better and Antrel Rolle is playing at his same physical level.
If the Giants can control the Cowboys running game, which they are capable of doing with their front seven, then it becomes a game of which team can put the most pressure on the quarterback -- but more importantly, who wins the matchups on the outside with this makeshift Giants secondary and Cowboys receivers.
Where Scott Linehan has been at his best with this Cowboys offense is attacking defensive schemes with multiple formations but also with multiple personnel groups. The Giants will win this game if they are able to control this Cowboys running game but more importantly find ways to choke off this Cowboys passing game and continue to force this offense off the field with their coverage.